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Preview - 20 Mar 2008



3.20 Wincanton – Somerset National Handicap Chase 3M 3F 110yards Soft

1. Maletton – Has fallen in the handicap to a attractive mark while with Venetia Williams after being quite a prolific scorer back at the start of last season and after losing his way and pulling up after last start, he has a new start with Welsh trainer Evan Williams and connections will be hoping that the change of stable reignites his enthusiasm for the game. This is a drop in class to what he is use to having been contesting Cheltenham class 2 handicaps in recent months (a track that doesn’t seem to suit) and the reverting to this sharper galloping track should help him to run a better race then he has been. The ground should suit him today as he gets his toe in well, however this could well be a confidence booster for the horse for a trip that is more to his liking as there has to be some stamina doubts given his breeding. Could well improve if staying the trip to win of higher marks, but under top weight there may be more progressive types against him and is one looking for a turn around in form. A fact-finding mission.

My Rating – 119

2. Petite Margot – Beaten by Arnold Layne last time who done the form no favours in a better handicap then this, and even though well beaten the runner up from that race should be more then capable at this level today. Nigel Twiston-Davies has had his best season for some time and this gallant nine year old has many miles on the clock but seems to be in the form of her life at present. These staying races have been the making of the horse so far and she stays very well in these types of conditions. The handicap may feel he has her measure with a 11lb higher mark then when she was last successful, but the last run and a sound enough effort in a grade 2 hurdle the time before suggest she has a chance at this level in a weaker race. Vulnerable to an improver in the handicap she sets the benchmark for the others to aim at I feel. Galloping tracks are not usually ideally her best types, but with the sharper nature of this track in a galloping sense she should handle it well enough.

My Rating – 130

3. Iris De Blame – Finally came well over a marathon trip in which he showed significant improvement to land and is very much on an upward curve at the moment as he is lightly raced. Staying trips seem to be very much ideal for the horse as he gets stronger for the test of stamina. Potentially still well handicapped with improvement still likely in the horse. The 9lbs rise in the weights will obviously help to hinder his chances today and the ground is possibly more testing then ideal for the horse as well underfoot with better ground improving the horse last time out and not showing much in 3 attempts on testing ground in this country so far even though not disgraced. Better over fences then he was over hurdles and with things pointing in the right direction it would be wrong to totally discount the horse on count of the ground.

My Rating – 128

4. I Hear Thunder – Hasn’t run a decent race since winning at Aintree back in November 2006 and is regressing at the speed of knots after looking quite a decent chaser the season before that win. Fully exposed handicapper he is on a low mark in comparison to his ability of old and the run last time at Sandown on preferred ground showed that he is out of love with the game. An early season horse he needs to show some sort of form in the remaining months of this season to be considered for handicaps in the autumn. Quirky tracks have seen him at his best in the past and with his liking for easy non stamina zapping tracks he should handle this course well. Ground may be to tacky for him and even though well handicapped on old form It would take a leap of faith to feel he has a chance in this today.

My rating – 110

5. Special Conquest – A shocker winner at Exeter at 25-1 when staying on well after looking less then straight forward and after a disappointing effort the next time out he returned to winning ways when taking the scalp of the exposed handicapper Hidden Bounty in the mud at Haydock. Clearly suited to both better and testing ground of the back of that effort he comes into this race under a 7lbs hike in the weights for that victory and will need to be at his best to overcome this rise in class against likely more progressive chasers here today. Stays these marathon trips well he should be thereabouts at the finish even if looking like the handicapper is likely to have his mark now, and with the recent form proving he is up to it at this level, he should find one or two progressing past him.

My Rating – 122

6. Georges Boy – Looked like a handicap good thing the way he finished his race of last time by making all the running and staying on stoutly to win by a wide margin at a lower level and that tripped seem to bring out some improvement in the horse who did benefit for the drop in class. Back up in class today he has an extra couple of furlongs to deal with today in which he should benefit for further and could finally run a big race at this level having pulled up the time before. Fairly exposed overall having been on the racecourse among the most in this race. A bit of a hit and miss character the biggest concern this horse may have is his ability to act on today’s surface with him needing much better ground then he is likely to be running on today and that may put pay to him following up his win last time on good racing ground. The Jockey takes 7lbs of his back, but he may be running on empty the time the claim gives him the advantage over his rivals.

My Rating – 119

7. Ironside – has a lot of ground to make up on Iris De Blame on running last time at Folkestone and even though the weight swing should help him against that rival it may well not be enough for him to reverse the form on these marks. Ground and trip suit so he should have no excuses if he was to reverse the form, but the handicapper has had him since his last win judging by how his form has tailed off and he is often below his best in the spring having struggled in all five runs around this time of year. A sharper test often sees him at his best so he shouldn’t at any point get outpaced in this race and he does stay the trip. The receiving of weight may give him some claims but the overall likely hood is he will once again find a few to good.

My Rating – 114

Tissue – Petit Margot 7/4, Iris De Blame 5/2, Special Conquest 6/1, Maletton, Georges Boy 8/1, Ironside 12/1, I Hear Thunder 25/1

Verdict – seven runners for this staying handicap in which the top two on my tissue are very much likely to take all the beating in this handicap with the strength and depth looking a little thin on the ground. Special Conquest may give them most to do as he continues his good form this season, while the change of yard for Maletton in an easier race may see him go better then he has been recently and is respected from top weight.

Selection – 3 pts win Petite Margot  @ 11-4 (BF3’s)

Best of luck all

Well Chief